The spiritual insights recorded in the Bible and many other books such as Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures have long been the basis for healing disease and addressing other health concerns. What is unusual today about the use of prayer in healing is the rigorous research by scientists exploring the connection between prayer, spirituality, and physical healing.
According to David Larson, MD, President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research, in the past ten years research focused on the effectiveness of prayer has nearly doubled. Dr. Mitchell Krucoff, who has been studying prayer and spirituality since 1996, commented, “…we’re seeing systematic investigations – clinical research – as well as position statements from professional societies supporting this research, …funding from Congress, …all of these studies, all the reports, are remarkably consistent in suggesting the potential measurable health benefit associated with prayer or spiritual interventions.”
Because there have been many studies on prayer, meta-analyses of prayer efficacy have also been conducted. One such review by David R. Hodge even investigated if the research supported the idea that God answered prayer for healing.
This quest for answers is not new, but it’s taking on a new look. It’s no secret that the public is using prayer for health purposes and that prayer has been reported as the most used integrative medical practice. One question now isn’t so much whether prayer is being used, but rather how the use of prayer can be implemented in a conventional health setting. What support can the patient expect from his physician if the patient desires the integrative medicine of prayer?
From his research, Harold G. Koenig, MD found that religious beliefs influenced medical decision-making and that taking a spiritual history is becoming a standard procedure during patient care – which may enhance the doctor-patient relationship. This understanding by the physician of the patient’s spiritual history will be a key component in giving the desired support to the patient. Koenig was interested in finding what benefits these religious beliefs gave in treating the patient and found that prayer was linked to a feeling of greater wellbeing, with accompanying lower rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. He also found that the actual physiological condition improved with the use of prayer.
Not only is prayer now being understood as helpful in the healing process, but the research into how prayer works is also expanding.
Dr. Eben Alexander, neurosurgeon and author of Proof of Heaven, is leading the field in a new direction when he states, “Consciousness is the thing that exists. It is the support, the basis on which all of the universe is based. Consciousness is our oneness with the Divine. It is pure God-given love and power. It’s time for brain science, mind science, physics, cosmology, to move from kindergarten up into first grade and realize we will never truly understand consciousness with that simplistic materialist mindset.”
Prayer has been an effective method of healing for me, so I enthusiastically look forward to further scientific results on the healing power of prayer and to our expanded understanding of our relation to the Divine. Each step in our understanding of this relationship will undoubtedly lead to new and higher views of self, which will lead to an increased sense of health. Something everyone can look forward to!
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